Dog Uncovers $500,000 Worth of Opium at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport

Wikipedia CommonsLeave it to a dog named Shadow to bring illegal narcotics to light.

Shadow, a drug sniffing dog with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection alerted officials to packages of opium-soaked cloth that revealed about 30 pounds of the illegal substance.  The opium had a street value of nearly $500,000.

The packages were stopped at the International Mail Facility near O’Hare International Airport last month.

Shadow identified the first package around 2:30pm on March 15.  The package was labeled as “Hmong dresses”, and it was destined for Wisconsin.  After Shadow alerted his handlers, Customs seized the package.  Inside the box were 15 pounds of clothes, which tested positive for opium.

Shadow identified another package later in the day, this one en route to Minnesota from Laos.  The five pound package contained 10 pieces of opium-soaked cloth.

Shadow wasn’t done though, as he sniffed out two more drug packages within a half hour.

The third package, again destined for Wisconsin, was listed as “traditional medicines” on the shipping invoice. It contained 38 bags of wood chips, which tested positive for opium.  The last package was stopped on its way to Minnesota.  It was also listed as “traditional medicines”, but upon inspection it revealed 53 bags of twigs and wood shavings, which again tested positive for opium.

The last two packages weighed a combined 11 pounds, bringing the 8-year-old Belgian Malinois’ daily count to 30 pounds of opium.

Brett Appelman comments

This type of case is not too unusual these days.  With the advent of x-ray machines and other scanning technologies, combined with the use of drug dogs, sending illegal drugs through the mail has become very difficult.  Drug dealers have resorted to swallowing balloons filled with drugs, filling boxes with coffee grounds, and even using dryer sheets to sneak the drugs into the country.  Some still get through, but more and more of these packages get caught.

The next question is whether or not an arrest can be made in this case. Clearly the police will be interested in who was supposed to receive these packages, but merely being the intended receiver of a package of drugs is not necessarily illegal.  The addressee can certainly claim that they had no knowledge of the drugs, which would make the case more difficult for the State.  The state may have a tough time proving that the addressee knew about the contents, agreed to receive the contents, and attempted to import drugs.

This will likely be a very tough case for the prosecutor to win.

Related source:  Chicago Tribune

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